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Sudan Tribune

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Statement of Chairman Royce: ‘Sudan Peace Agreement Around the Corner?’

By Edward R. Royce

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 11, 2004 (United States Congress) — The following is the opening statement of Africa Subcommittee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-40) at this afternoon’s hearing on the peace process in Sudan:

“Today we will examine the Sudan peace negotiations. The extent of human suffering in Sudan cannot be said enough. The figures are staggering: over two million dead Sudanese in twenty years. Millions more have been displaced. Who knows how many victims of slavery, persecution and atrocities?

“There is no doubt where the responsibility for this calamity lies. This Congress is on record condemning the National Islamic Front Government of Sudan for genocide. It does not get clearer, or starker, than that.

“President Bush and his Administration deserve great credit for energetically promoting the peace process. The Administration has been bold and creative. The agreements that have been reached to stop the fighting and hold a referendum on unity are truly historic.

“The Administration realizes though that this progress is imperiled by the hold-ups in finalizing an agreement. Last May, at our Subcommittee’s hearing on the Sudan Peace Act, I said that perpetual negotiations are not in the cards. Unfortunately, the window for peace is closing — fast.

“Congress has played an important role in promoting peace negotiations, most prominently through the bipartisan Sudan Peace Act. I am certain that Congress will remain attentive to developments in Sudan, whether we see good news or bad news come out of Naivasha, Kenya. There should be no mistaking the strong and enduring congressional commitment to Sudan.

“The Sudan Peace Act demands accountability of the two negotiating parties. So far, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement have been judged to be negotiating in good faith. We eagerly await the Administration’s third Sudan Peace Act report next month.

“There is no doubt about who is responsible for the carnage in the western region of Darfur. The Government has been rightly condemned for its attacks on the people of this isolated region, which we’ll hear about today. Darfur is an ominous cloud over the peace process. It jeopardizes the negotiations, while underscoring the great complexities of moving ahead.

“We should have no illusions that successful peace negotiations are the end game. Africa is littered with broken peace treaties. Even good people can be corrupted by power. Building a peaceful and stable Sudan will be a hugely difficult task. The Sudanese people bear this responsibility. But the U.S. and others have a strong interest in continuing to support their efforts.

“Peace-makers far outnumber war-makers in Sudan. The key is whether the very small minority of Sudanese who profit from their country’s destruction will control its future. Many envision a brighter day for Sudan -one in which Sudanese and Americans of all faiths work together in productive and unprecedented ways. For this to happen, the war-makers must be defeated. I know that the Administration and Congress will continue to oppose them every step of the way.”